The Secrets of Happy Plus-Size Women

Curvicality Body Love - How-to and inspirational articles on loving your plus-size body just as it is.
Does this sound like you?

Maybe you used to be smaller; maybe you never were. Either way, you’re struggling with the plus-size part of your life. All you really want is to feel happy and sexy.

Instead, you feel down, drab and defeated. You surf plus-size Instagram campaigns, hoping you’ll catch the wave, to no avail. “Why can’t I feel more confident?” you ask.

Not everyone is going to be as confident as Carmen Rene, Jess Baker or Tess Holliday. (Don’t we wish!) But there are a ton of things we can do to move in that direction.

Change begins with you, darlin’. Here is some advice from happy and sexy plus-size women. (For more tips, take our ULTIMATE Body Image Boot Camp, which will be released in November.)

Life isn’t about if or when I lose weight. It’s about the now.

If you’re struggling with this mentality, I completely get it. As much as I’m embarrassed to admit it, I used to have a lingering belief that times of weight loss were the only moments worth celebrating. I was obsessed with the belief that when I lose weight, I will be happy.

But even when I lost the weight, I still wasn’t happy. Sometimes, I was even more frustrated because I had glorified skinniness in my mind. In the meantime, I missed the boat.

You see, life was never about celebrating and finding beauty in where I am at every point in my unique journey. It was about the past or the future. If you think about it, that’s a really sad thing.

Eventually, I had a massive awakening. I realized that the true path to happiness is to embrace exactly where you are in your life. You may never want to go on a diet again, or you may have plans to lose weight. (Side Note: We don’t EVER take a stand here at Curvicality. We’re all about accepting our bodies as they are. But we don’t judge our friends who are making changes.) That’s your choice, but you must find happiness where you are right now.

This is the path to what we call Curvicality: living and loving every inch of your plus-sized body and life. Yes, getting to that point takes time. It’s a series of baby steps marked by an intentional shift in attitude.

To put it simply, you must find and embrace your beauty — and accept that you are perfect just as you are. Until you find the courage to take this leap, you will never be happy. You’ll always feel subpar. How’s that for a reality check?

My sex life rocks.

Who doesn’t love the big O? More, pleeeease. As a part of the Curvicality project, I’ve interviewed scores of women across the country. In the process, I’ve noticed a very interesting trend. The happiest plus-size women embrace their sexuality. They have sex (and to be honest, they have lots of it). That said, they only have sex with partners who adore their bodies. (They made that very clear.) Because let’s face it, you’re too awesome to accept anything less than adoration.

If you’re struggling to find your oomph, start with you before you turn to your partner. Spend time exploring exactly what makes you feel sexy. Step out of your comfort zone. That could be a sultry bubble bath, high heels on a Monday, reading affirmations that move you, or even going commando. (Yes, I really said that.) Explore. Get out of your comfort zone.

Once you find your own secret sexy, you’ll take it with you to the sack. Sure, you might be 50 shades of red right now, but it’s the truth!

I deserve to dress to the nines. (This one is for the newbie plus-size divas.)

Do you wear black to hide your curves? (My hand was the first to go up on this one.) I’m guilty as charged. For a long time, black was my thing. I convinced myself it made me feel more confident. But really, I was hiding from being noticed.

As one interviewee put it, “unless you’re funeral-hopping for fun, there’s no excuse for dressing like it.” We giggled at that one. Truth be told, the notion that dressing in black alone makes you look sexier is way out. Girl, it’s not 1987. Patterns, two-tones, colors and animal prints are all the rage.

So ditch the darkness. Resolve to shop with color in mind. It’s OK to dress in black for a little slink now and then. However, call yourself out on it. Don’t hide the beauty that is you. Get out of your comfort zone and glam it up.

Stay social.

Raise your hand if you’ve had a tough day and isolated yourself from the world. (My hand is waving wildly. Grin.) Big mistake. Huge.

Everyone falls into an antisocial funk from time to time. But don’t let it get the best of you. Being with people is one of the most important keys to happiness in general. The problem is, when the darkness sets in, we isolate more and more. Before we know it, we’ve spent a month binging Netflix. (Guilty there too.)

If you’re an Isolating Isabelle, you might need a little structure to exit your cave. Set social goals; and take them seriously, just like a work engagement. You can do something simple, like getting a pedi with your bestie. Or you can take it up a notch and start a monthly dining or wine group with friends. If you’re feeling funky, fake it til you make it. It’s the effort that counts. Little changes lead to big results.     

I reject demeaning beauty standards.

It’s no wonder plus-size women struggle with self esteem. The fashion industry is a confidence killer. And it does this in concerning ways.

For example, I recently read an article about the late Karl Lagerfeld. While I wish this guy nothing but peace in the afterlife, his comments make my skin crawl. As quoted by Vox, he had the audacity to say “no one wants to see curvy women (on the runway).” Later, he was kind enough to say: “You’ve got fat mothers with their bags of chips sitting in front of the television and saying that thin models are ugly. The world of beautiful clothing is about ‘dreams and illusions.’”

If this guy were still alive, I’d give him an earful. This is absolute bullshit. We’re not sitting around eating bonbons to pass the time (and who cares anyway). A lot of us work out an insane amount. We’re just not made to be miniscule little creatures. God made us this way, and we’re proud of it.

So monitor your media, my friend. We are pummeled with ads all day long, with some reports saying we might see several thousand ads in a 24-hour period. Because you can’t control everything you see, you need to add to it. Spend 15 minutes a day surfing positive body image campaigns designed specifically for real women. Set your Instagram or Facebook with some favorites, and dive in. You owe it to yourself to reject boring, self-defeating, misogynistic beauty standards.

I refuse to compare myself to other women.

The comparison trap is the quintessential Debbie Downer of any woman’s life. It just is. This is especially true when it comes to the “oops, I compared myself to my skinny friend” moment.

An unforgettable story from my life: Last year, I went to lunch with my dear and pint-size friend Kari. Afterward, she wanted to do what many of us love to do … shop. Problem was, she dragged me to one of those tiny-people boutiques where the biggest waist size probably wouldn’t even fit my arm. Yes, arm. Just one of them.

I didn’t quite know what to do, so I pretended to be interested in the clothes, of which the largest size I could find was eight. Yes, I was the elephant in the room. And I don’t mean in the size kind of way. I mean in the “what do we do with her” kind of way. (Girl, I know you’ve been there.)

“Can I help you find something?” the kind clerk asked. I had no clue what to say. It’s not like I’m going to open up and blurt out “you know you can’t.” In the meantime, my mind took off on a sprint. If only … if only … if only. I started comparing myself to my petite friend, feeling anything but happy and sexy. Every ounce of self-esteem I had worked so hard to build went out the window in two seconds or less. Why? I wasn’t prepared for how I would keep myself out of this mindframe … a toxic thinking catastrophe we’ve all experienced.

OK, you can’t specifically prepare yourself for every spontaneous experience. But you can prepare in a general way with a little pep talk. For example, I might say: “Put the focus back on yourself, Mary Beth. You are beautiful and amazing exactly as you are.” Then, I start listing all of the positives about myself so that I’m not caught up in someone else’s reality.

Your pep talk will be unique to you. And if you’re really struggling, remember to start small. You might not immediately believe it if you say “I am beautiful.” So start with the small aspects that you see beauty in. This is a little trick I learned from my buddy Jodi, who is a therapist. You can say: “I have beautiful eyes and a beautiful smile. I am a hard worker and a very giving person.” This may sound vanilla, but you’ve got to start somewhere.

Happiness comes from the inside out.

We can talk about loving and fully accepting our plus-size bodies over and over. But at the end of the day, size has nothing to do with it. As our friend Carmen Rene told us, “fat isn’t a feeling.” It’s just not. Loving yourself is about finding happiness from the inside out.

Loving yourself from the inside out means embracing both your strengths and your flaws. You’re full of love, compassion and a whole lot of dreams. Sure, you’ve also got things you want to work on. Maybe you struggle with patience; or maybe you struggle with depression. To love you is to love all these things.  

The other thing to remember is that chasing pleasure isn’t the key to happiness. We often associate a quick fix of pleasure, like sex or making a big life change on the spur of the moment, with happiness. But it’s much simpler than that. Happiness is the ability to embrace the pause in between life’s busy times. The silence. 

Do you have a story about the secrets of happy plus-size women to share? Send us an email, or leave us a comment.



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